Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Tom Still: Computer science driving innovation across industry lines

Created through the merger of three departments, the School of Computer, Data and Informatics has an ambitious mission that goes beyond educating the next generation of “data heads” – although it remains center stage. Computer science is already the largest single major on campus and the new data science major is one of the fastest growing. Along with other sequences, the CDIS comprises approximately 3,700 students.

Wisconsin can put them all to work… and then some. Erikson said there are about 6,600 open computing-related jobs in the state today, of which only a fraction will be filled by combined annual graduates of the state’s secondary schools. With such talent in high demand, it should come as no surprise that the average computing job salary is around $80,000 a year, compared to $50,000 for the statewide average.

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The computer science department at UW-Madison didn’t once have a reputation for sending its best and brightest to Silicon Valley veterans and connecting with Wisconsin businesses. This has changed, with CDIS reaching out to state companies that recognize computing has become an essential part of their businesses.

The school has also intensified its efforts to foster student and faculty entrepreneurship, some of which is evident in the recent angel and venture capital funding of Wisconsin companies.

For example, CDIS recently attracted the internationally known Creative Destruction Lab, which advises young companies with innovative products and services in the risk, insurance, health and wellness sectors. An experienced investor at the meeting said that CDL is “the best program of its kind” that he has seen.

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